Osaka, July 2 (Xinhua): After two rainy days in the Japanese city of Osaka, Chinese President Xi Jinping and U.S. President Donald Trump sat down at a warm Saturday noon for much anticipated talks on the future of China-U.S. relations and their trade frictions.
After greeting each other with firm handshakes, the two leaders talked for more than one hour and agreed to jointly advance a China-U.S. relationship featuring coordination, cooperation and stability.
They also clinched a deal to restart economic and trade consultations between their countries on the basis of equality and mutual respect, injecting much-needed confidence into the global economy and markets.
The U.S. side said it will not add new tariffs on imports from China. The two countries’ economic and trade negotiating teams will work on specific issues.
The top-level meeting, which aimed at charting the course for one of the world’s most important bilateral ties in the next stage, took place under global spotlight on the sidelines of a summit of the Group of 20 (G20) major economies in Osaka.
At the very beginning of their meeting, Xi recalled the start of “ping-pong diplomacy” in 1971 in Nagoya, Japan, where Chinese and U.S. players had friendly interactions at the 31st World Table Tennis Championships.
Eight years later, the two countries established diplomatic relations in 1979.
Despite the great changes that have taken place in the international situation and China-U.S. relations during the past 40 years, “one basic fact remains unchanged: China and the United States both benefit from cooperation and lose in confrontation,” Xi said. “Cooperation and dialogue are better than friction and confrontation.”
China and the United States have highly integrated interests and extensive cooperation areas, and they should not fall into so-called traps of conflict and confrontation, Xi said.
He said that China is sincere in continuing trade negotiations and managing differences with the United States, but negotiations should be based on equality and mutual respect and address each other’s legitimate concerns.
Also starting the talks with a vivid memory of his state visit to China in 2017, Trump said that trip is “one of the most incredible in my life.”
The U.S. president told Xi that he harbors no hostility towards China and hopes for better relations between the two countries.
Trump said that the U.S. side will work together with China to advance a U.S.-China relationship featuring coordination, cooperation and stability, expressing confidence that his meeting with Xi will give a strong boost to the development of U.S.-China relations.
Xi’s Clarion Call For Multilateralism
Chinese President Xi Jinping has led a chorus for safeguarding multilateralism and charting the course for the world economy and global governance at a summit of the Group of 20 (G20) major economies.
To lead economic globalization toward the right direction, Xi said in a much anticipated speech on Friday that the G20 members should embrace development opportunities with greater openness and seek win-win results with better cooperation.
The Chinese leader also pledged that the country, as a leading global economy, would undertake further opening-up measures, such as releasing the 2019 edition of the negative list on foreign investment, further bringing down China’s overall tariff level, and introducing a punitive compensation mechanism for intellectual property infringement cases — all demonstrating China acting as a flag-bearer of free trade and multilateralism.
Multilateralism has been one of the keywords in Xi’s speech at the Osaka summit and his meetings with other G20 leaders on the sidelines of the summit, as he noted that the world economy is once again at a crossroads 10 years after the global financial crisis.
Echoing his remarks, other G20 leaders also sent a clear and strong message to the world on upholding multilateralism and an open world economy to renew global confidence in trade liberalization and economic globalization.
“A free and open economy is the foundation of global peace and prosperity…While anxiety and discontent with abrupt changes due to globalization can at times generate the temptation for protectionism, bringing about sharp confrontation between states,” said Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, the host.
“Now is the time we send out a strong message on the maintenance and strengthening of free, fair and non-discriminatory trading system,” he added.
European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker noted that issues like climate change, sustainable development, terrorism, trade and global economic growth cut across boundaries, societies and economies, and require a concerted, comprehensive response within the framework of a multilateral rules-based system.
“Multilateralism is in the Europe’s DNA. By being united and working together, we make ourselves individually and collectively stronger,” said Juncker in a message to the summit.
According to Swaran Singh, a professor from the School of International Studies at the Delhi-based Jawaharlal Nehru University in India, “Xi’s much anticipated speech at Osaka G20 summit aptly provides a direction for improving global trading system” to avoid “being myopic and guided by short-term interests.”
“China is today seen as a major locomotive for providing momentum to ensuring trust in global trading systems,” he said.
Echoing Singh’s remarks, Hugo Dobson, head of the School of East Asian Studies at the Sheffield University in Britain, also saw China as the champion of multilateralism and the global trading system.
On China’s ongoing efforts in this regard, Dobson said “it was already evident when China held the G20 presidency in 2016 that it was transitioning from a rule taker to a rule maker that seeks to shape international norms rather than just respond to them.”
“So, China appears to be continuing along this trajectory,” he told Xinhua.
Siprit of Partnership
Xi put forward a four-point proposal in his speech at the G20 summit, including exploring driving force for growth, improving global governance, removing development bottlenecks, and properly addressing differences.
We should strengthen the multilateral trading system and conduct necessary reforms of the World Trade Organization to make it more effective, Xi said.
“China’s top leader has pledged leadership in safeguarding and developing an open world economic order underpinned by the multilateral trading system,” said Hidetoshi Tashiro, chief economist at Japan’s Sigma Capital Ltd.
Liu Di, a professor at Kyorin University in Tokyo, said the proposal was “powerful and effective” in countering unilateralism and protectionism.
“The Chinese leader highlights the spirit of partnership, calls for joint efforts, and advocates innovation for high-quality development, which will surely help the international community build up the determination to overcome protectionism,” said Liu.
“No nation, howsoever powerful, can close doors to the rest of the world. The right direction remains in … building partnerships on the basis of sovereign equality and mutual benefits and especially in building partnerships for innovation to redress future challenges,” said Singh.
China Takes Initiative
At the G20 summit, Xi also pledged to implement a slew of new opening-up measures, saying that China will further open up its market, proactively expand imports, continuously improve its business environment for foreign enterprises, and press ahead with various trade agreement negotiations.
“We can see China has taken the initiative to maintain and strengthen the multilateral trading system that the U.S. government is trying to undermine,” said Tashiro.
Humayun Iqbal Shami, chairman of Islamabad-based think tank Pakistan Economic Forum, said he appreciates that China offers the measures to open up when the world economy is facing growing uncertainties.
“It is a great gesture to the world, especially to the developing countries,” he said. “It is an attitude of a country who considers itself responsible to sort out the international problems.”
Singh believed that the Xi’s pledge for actions underlines the country’s sense of “responsibility” to “enhance confidence in the market” and “guide the development of economic globalization in the right direction.”
Xi’s vision of world economy is prudent and reflects the common aspiration of developing countries, said Joseph Matthews, a senior professor at the Beltei International University in Phnom Penh.
“The world economy cannot afford a continued trade war on tariffs and politically motivated economic sanctions on other sovereign countries. I personally believe united we stand, divided we falter,” he said.
The United States hopes to engage in consultations to properly settle the trade imbalance between the two countries and provide fair treatment for enterprises of both sides, said Trump, adding that he hopes China can increase imports from the United States.
Trump told reporters after the meeting that the U.S.-China trade negotiations are now “right back on track,” a result which he considered “excellent” and better than expected.
Saeed Chaudhry, director of Islamabad Council for International Affairs, saw the outcome of the Xi-Trump meeting in Osaka as “a sign of relief to the world.”
“The U.S. administration must understand that they will lose, China will lose and then the whole world will lose if the two continue on the path of confrontation and resistance, but if they talk and cooperate, it would be a win-win situation of all,” he told Xinhua.
Zhu Jianrong, a professor at Toyo Gakuen University of Japan, said the results of the meeting showed the inseparable relations between the United States and China, and they will benefit from cooperation and lose in confrontation.
The two leaders kept in mind their responsibility as major countries and the benefit of the two peoples, and arrived at a decision to stop further escalating the trade war and to resolve differences through consultations, said Jin Jianmin, a senior fellow at Fujitsu Research Institute in Tokyo.
It was the first face-to-face meeting between Xi and Trump, after their last one in December in the Argentine capital of Buenos Aires, also on the sidelines of a G20 summit.